Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "sacred"

Water Stewardship at #SXSWEco

10/11/16 | View Comments

“Nature is the infrastructure of community.”

– Robert F. Kennedy Jr., SXSW Eco Keynote

TKF’s NatureSacred writer Elizabeth Housley brings an update from the 2016 SXSW Eco conference happening right now October 10-12 in Austin, TX. SXSW Eco is a space for business leaders, investors, innovators and designers to share progress and ideas of emerging economic, environmental and social change.

The conference is an example of the emerging “4th Industrial Revolution” where technology becomes the backbone of human interaction with physical space. A strong theme of environmental equity runs through the conference presentations. Most are optimistic but self-critical. Attendees live vote during a design competition between urban strategy + civic engagement projects, listen to on-the-ground strategies to fight diseases and water access via pop-up architecture, and attend several workshops on corporate responsibility. Keynote speakers are game-changing leaders from the government and private sector. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Kate Brandt and Bill Nye among the most thrilling.

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What is Sacred?

08/23/16 | View Comments

In the past few decades a surge of scientific research provides evidence connecting human health with the experience of nearby nature in cities. data_slide_c

The experience of “being in nature”, personal and deeply felt, commonly evokes feelings of transformation and contemplation. Literature and traditions recount the importance of nature in personal realizations of inspiration, deeper connections, mindfulness, and extended social connections.

This personal experience is historically described as “sacred”.

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The Power of a Journal in a Sacred Space

06/16/16 | View Comments

Journal entries reveal insights into gratitude, love and life.

Over the past year we have shared the thoughts and feelings left in the journals found under the bench in every Open Space Sacred Place the TKF Foundation helped to create. These #Benchstories capture just a few of the thousands of journal entries written by visitors to the gardens over the years. In the journals we catch glimpses of the healing and transformative effects momentary time spent in nature can have upon the individual.

There is the initial discovery of the Open Space Sacred Place followed by a moment’s respite on the bench. While seated on the bench, the visitor may notice the cord attaching the journal to the bench or the protective box located under the bench where the journal is kept. From there the discovery may move to a reading of journal entries left by others. Finally, the peacefulness of the space lends itself to personal reflection or even the act of writing the entry itself allowing the visitor to discover something about her/himself that they weren’t aware of before.

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Stewardship of Civic Sacred Space

05/03/16 | View Comments

“I’ve found that it’s usually the process of coming together as a community that makes a place sacred, not simply the existence of green space.”

A visit to Tanner Springs Park tends to include observing water life.

Portland’s Tanner Springs Park provides stormwater management and community engagement benefits.


Outdoor environments, particularly in cities, can deliver transformational benefits to users and surrounding communities. The experience of nearby nature can offer sanctuary, solace, and places for mindful reflection. Civic Sacred nature spaces can aid in community healing and connection.

What does it take to support and foster a community green space? In areas with a lack of funding or community engagement, it can be challenging. In many instances, challenges are overcome because of a few dedicated community leaders. Stewards of these spaces could be an initial community leader, one who volunteers to maintain a garden, or one who regularly visits because they recognize the value and healing within. Green spaces can be a powerful community powered mechanism for recovery after natural disasters or social need response.

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Urban Green Spaces: Bridging Differences

12/15/15 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders and ideas advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This December we examine the concept of “civic sacred”. 

Public discussion about the experiences and emotions of religion and the Sacred may be challenging. Although Civic sacred is not limited to traditional places of worship and consecrated sites, popular interpretations of Sacred are connected to religion and theology, and are interlaced with faith-based organizations. There can be assumptions of exclusion or possession, as expressed in dictionary definitions of sacred: Dedicated, set apart, exclusively appropriated to some person or some special purpose. This month, many religious organizations across the U.S. are re-creating sacred space through community greening activities designed to bring those with diverse beliefs together.

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Civic sacred: person, place, process

12/08/15 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders and ideas advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This December we examine the concept of “civic sacred”. 

People readily recognize the importance of positive relationships with friends and loved ones.  Relationships with places are also important aspects of a person’s wellness and expressions; more than a backdrop. Social activity and personal transformation in a green space contributes to what Nature Sacred describes as civic sacred.

Everyday encounters with nature in cities have the potential to promote inspiration, deeper thinking, mindfulness, and social and cultural connections, and may be transformational. A civic sacred green space emerges from engagement and interaction with the land, one’s body, mind and spirt, and other people. Place attachment is one concept that describes how civic sacred places may come to be.

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Encountering the Civic Sacred

12/01/15 | View Comments

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.
John Muir

The Nature Sacred Principle is sponsored by the TKF family foundation, which has funded intimate, open, urban green spaces in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. for more than 20 years. The Principle asserts that exposure to nearby nature environments, particularly in cities, can offer sanctuary, solace, reflection, and mindful interaction. These transformational encounters benefit users and surrounding communities.

Banyan trees in Hawaii create community meeting spots. Credit: Eddi Miglavs

Banyan trees in Hawaii create community meeting spots. Credit: Eddi Miglavs

Urbanization is a global trend. More than 80% of the U.S. population and over 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. Urban lifestyles can bring on stress, and even a sense that life is out of balance. Many people recognize that nature experiences can heal and provide respite, but assume that one must leave the city and travel to wild places to restore and regain a sense of calm.

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America the Beautiful!

06/30/15 | View Comments

Where will you be this weekend for Independence Day celebrations? Like many this long weekend, you will likely gather with others in a local city park, or visit one of the many grand state or national parks. July 4th celebrations are usually quite the opposite of most sensory experiences we discuss here;  loud, busy and joyful rather than quiet and reflective. However, this weekend can be a time for you to reflect on our nation’s identity and our long standing love of green spaces.

Kids enjoying live music, picnics and July 4th activities  in the Rocky Mountains.

Kids enjoying live music, picnics and July 4th activities in the Rocky Mountains.

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Reclaiming a Sacred Space for Your Self

06/23/15 | View Comments

In our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This month we discuss the real, lived experience when you rest in nearby nature. Look around you, take a deep breath and allow a moment for your Self.

Friedrichsau, Wasserspiele

Spending time in nature relaxes us. Even after just a few minutes of being in a green space our bodies slide into a relaxation response. You will experience a decrease in blood pressure, a decrease in cortisol output, heightened immunity, a decrease in muscle tension, and an increase in alertness.

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Nature heals us, How?

04/28/15 | View Comments

In our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. In April, we talk with several companies and initiatives developing meaningful places in our cities.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations supporting nature access in our cities. This year’s Earth Day alone was a reminder of the many people working to make our cities healthy, meaningful, and liveable. Our collective conscious is becoming more aware of how modern life disrupts our connection to nature and our bodies. And more research every day shows how urban green spaces improve health. This April we have highlighted several organizations who are doing their own research or advocacy for green spaces. We close out this month by taking a closer look at several projects and publications within our Nature Sacred National Awards Program.

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    We are a private nonprofit that supports, informs, and inspires the creation of publicly accessible urban green spaces. We believe that every city resident needs nearby green space to provide opportunities for mindfulness, respite, and renewal. The Foundation has issued its final grants to build five Open Spaces Sacred Places and research the impacts on a variety of users with the hope that the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing will be scientifically proven.

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